Cyprus accelerated the use of digital services

After years of delays, some vital government services have been transformed within weeks

E-GOVERNMENT has been given a big boost by the coronavirus, with the authorities forced by social distancing decrees to speed up digitisation of state services. Some programmes have been put in place within days in stark contrast to the glacial pace of the past.

Work currently in progress, that could be completed as soon as the end of April, will enable people applying for any of the five emergency benefit payments to complete the entire process digitally. Applications, processing and payment will all be done online.

Social distancing will not be affected as there will be no paper trail – no need for people to gather in numbers at the labour ministry to fill in forms, no postal deliveries and no visits to the banks to deposit the cheque.

“We are using shortcuts and will go live as soon as we are ready without all the necessary testing,” says Kokkinos, who stresses that the overriding objective was to pay beneficiaries as soon as possible. “We will revisit it and fix things later, because now the priority is getting it running so people can receive their benefits.”

The private sector is also helping the digitalisation effort. Companies are offering assistance as are individuals, said Kokkinos, citing a former bank employee offering his wealth of experience as a testing manager free of charge. People wanted to help, he said.

“We are doing in three weeks what had not been done in 10 years,” he said, pointing out that the labour ministry with its many departments serving so much of the public should have been digitalised a long time ago.